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Author of book on odd animal pals coming to Conservancy [Marriottsville/Sykesville/Woodstock]

Lions and tigers and bears — oh my! We have probably all seen videos or heard stories about amazing animal friendships. A heartwarming tale of animal bonding proves hard to resist and offers hope for similarly unlikely human friendships.

Jennifer Holland, an award-winning author and writer for National Geographic Magazine, has first-hand experience with odd animal companions. She would like to take you behind the scenes of her book, "Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom."

Come meet her at the Howard County Conservancy on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 3 p.m., and hear stories about her adventures. She will be selling and signing copies of her book at the event and she invites attendees to bring their own pictures or stories about animals forming unusual friendships.

Attending the program costs $10 per family, and registration will take place online at http://www.hcconservancy.org. The Conservancy's address is 10520 Old Frederick Road, in Woodstock, and the phone number is 410-465-8877.

The 16th annual Backyard Bird Count begins Friday, Feb. 15, and runs through Monday, Feb. 18. This four-day event enlists bird watchers of all ages and experience levels in counting different varieties of birds throughout the continent.

Spend as little as 15 minutes on one day or as much time as desired to help track ever-changing bird populations. Scientists will use these observations to track migration trends and determine how birds react to diseases and changes in climate and environment.

To learn more or to participate in the Backyard Bird Count, go to http://www.birdsource.org.

Mark your calendars now for two Marriotts Ridge High School fundraisers.

On Friday, March 8, the school's PTSA will host a fun night of bingo in the cafeteria. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., with games beginning at 7, and food will be available for purchase during the event.

The evening will include 20 games with three specials and three raffles, and exciting prizes like Vera Bradley, Pandora jewelry and designer handbags.

Tickets cost $15 in advance or $20 at the door. Proceeds will help fund the annual After Prom celebration, which provides a safe environment where students can gather after the prom has ended. To request tickets in advance, send a written note to the school office (address to "After Prom Bingo"), or email Laura@wataxcon.com.

The Marriotts Ridge Booster Club will also hold its annual Mustang Madness fundraiser at Serafino's Italian Grill on Saturday, March 9, 7-11 p.m. The address is 3419 Plum Tree Drive in Ellicott City.

The event will feature a buffet, live music by Bad Moon, games, prizes and auctions. Tickets cost $45 by March 1 or $50 after that date, and all proceeds will benefit the MRHS Boosters. Go to http://www.mrhsboosters.com/madness to purchase tickets online or to download an order form.

For more information, email Maureen Grote at moegrote@verizon.net.

Ready to clean out your house, garage, or shed before spring? The Marriotts Ridge Music Foundation will happily accept your secondhand treasures for its annual flea market fundraiser.

Collections will take place at the school, 12100 Woodford Drive, Marriottsville, at the following times: Friday, Feb. 22, from 4 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon; and Friday, March 1, from 4 to 8 p.m. Since space is limited, hold all large items until March 1.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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